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Best Sumac Chicken Breast Recipe

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Author Notes

A winner, winner chicken dinner, all thanks to one ingredient: tangy, creamy Greek yogurt. Part of it gets used as a marinade—thanks to its fat and acidity, yogurt ensures that chicken breasts stay tender and don’t dry out in the pan. Note: Whole-milk yogurt is best here, but two-percent will do in a pinch. If all you have is nonfat, stir in a little olive oil or cream for richness (fat equals flavor). And while unstrained yogurt would be too thin, you can strain it yourself if you have the right tools.

The rest of that yogurt goes toward a smashed cucumber salad with wisps of red onion. Don’t skip the salting step for the vegetables—it draws out their juices, a salad dressing in their own right, and concentrates all the flavors.

If you don’t have sumac, other spices can be swapped in. Of course, they won’t be the same—substitutions never are—but you’ll still end up with something delicious. Try black pepper, cumin, caraway, garam masala, really whatever you love in your spice cabinet. Just stick to one ingredient and adjust the amount to taste (start with a big pinch for peppers, 1 teaspoon for the less spicy spices).

With respect to planning ahead: You can marinate the chicken for up to 12 hours in the fridge. (Any longer and it will get mealy.) Or, after you combine it with the yogurt, you can stick it in the freezer, keep it there for weeks, then thaw in the fridge whenever you’re ready to cook. (Thanks to Nik Sharma for this great tip!) —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Sumac Chicken With Yogurty Cucumber Salad is part of our Big Little Recipes column—good food with five ingredients (or fewer!)—and there’s lots more where that came from. Here are three other minimalist chicken recipes to add to your wishlist:

Weeknight Chicken With Creamy Mushrooms: One-pan recipes get a lot of hype, but sometimes two is better. In this recipe, it means you’re making your stove work for you. Halved, pounded chicken breasts get super crispy (no flour needed) while mushrooms happily simmer in a mustardy cream sauce (yep, just mustard and cream).

Buttery Balsamic Chicken: Balsamic vinegar put to good use—not one, not two, but three different ways. Some turns into a stupid-simple marinade for chicken breasts. More sizzles with butter as a tangy pan sauce. And even more gets splashed on at the end for a burst of acidity. Serve with a minimalist salad or hunk of bread and dinner is done. No need to use the fanciest balsamic here; any bottle will do the trick.

Back-Pocket Marinade for Grilled Chicken: Did you know a marinade can be as simple as mayonnaise and hot sauce and done? It can. Consider this an invitation to use whatever hot sauce is in your fridge (or, if you’re like Emma, one of the 17 hot sauces in your fridge). Team up with your favorite grilling sides, from potato salad to buttered corn. —The Editors

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